ONLY 10 DAYS LEFT: WILL USCIS REMAIN FULLY FUNCTIONAL STARTING AUGUST 30, 2020?
by Rabindra Singh
As many are aware, USCIS is set to furlough 13,000 of its employees starting August 30, 2020. This action will further harm the U.S. economy and bring the legal immigration system to a halt.
On Tuesday, August 18, 2020, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, wrote a letter addressed to DHS and USCIS requesting to delay of the unnecessary furloughs of over 13,000 USCIS staff starting August 30, 2020.
The full text of letter can be accessed at: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/LeahyUSCIS81820.pdf
Notably, in his letter, Senator Leahy writes:
“However, I am troubled by the fact that USCIS is still proceeding with furloughs for this fiscal year despite the fact that the agency is consistently projecting to end the fiscal year with a sizeable carryover balance. The resulting carryover balance exists even after you factor in paying staff through the fiscal year.
To put it more plainly, USCIS could pay all of its staff through the end of the fiscal year, avoid furloughs entirely, and still end the fiscal year with a sizeable carryover balance.
…without a functioning legal immigration system, our economy is likely to be impacted as critical future employees or employers will be unable to complete their immigration process. Additionally, some families have waited nearly 24 years to lawfully immigrate to the United States. The decision to shut down the legal immigration system by furloughing these employees will harm our economy, have adverse impacts on trade, encourage unlawful immigration, and is patently unfair to our federal workforce and to individuals who have waited so long to be reunited with their families.”
With 10 days in hand and dark clouds of furloughs looming over head, the lawmakers in both the House and Senate are absent from the nation’s capital. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told lawmakers to return by the end of this week to address legislation to support the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).
Furloughing USCIS employees coupled with crippling USPS is a perfect recipe for effectively shutting down legal immigration in the United States without making any statutory or regulatory change.
Though no formal statement has been issued by Speaker Pelosi’s office, hopefully, the lawmakers may also address USCIS funding when addressing USPS legislation so that the U.S. economy is not further adversely impacted without a properly functioning legal immigration system.